People go through more difficult transitions between the ages of 45–65 than they were prepared for.
I’m sure of it, and research shows it to be true. It happens because of situations that are expected or unexpected like divorce, empty nest, menopausal transitions, midlife crisis, a second marriage, health challenges, or a change in job… or retirement. (Harvard Business Review article).
Transitions are a part of life, and sometimes we resist, which makes it harder as we try to hold onto yesterday and all we knew about it then. But that “yesterday” is something we shouldn’t ignore.
Author Rick Warren (A Purpose Driven Life) says if you don’t examine your experiences, they have no value to you, and the only way to understand what you’ve achieved and transitioned from is to look back on your life before looking forward.
People seldom arrive at the present without a series of crazy life experiences. And that’s everyone I know. We all have a story…
We all have a past, a whole history to draw from that offers tools to renegotiate the next part of our lives. Looking at what you’ve already experienced and what it added to your fortitude is a way of looking at new ways to make things happen.
When my divorce happened, I had to sell my home of many years. I could no longer afford it as a single woman with three children.
But it was more than that. It was a whole life upheaval. That home held so many of my memories, and many of them were life-shattering.
My son died in that home… how could I leave it? He was just 16 years, 3 months, and 10 days when bacterial meningitis took him away. Just 24 hours from life to death. That damn fast… right in our home.
Within a year or two, the man who always told me we’d be together forever could no longer bear the sadness he felt and wanted a divorce. Losing a child can do that to a marriage. I know I’m not alone.
You have no idea how strong you really are until you’re challenged.
But, I discovered I was stronger than I ever dreamed possible. I sold my home, created a job for myself, and moved my three living children to a quiet little town outside of Los Angeles.
It was the best thing I ever did for my kids. They quickly adapted to small-town life and their new lifestyle.
Lifestyle isn’t the stuff you own or the size of your house, it’s how you live within the means you have.
Living a new life requires refining your thinking. I discovered even with a change in financial circumstances, you get to choose your lifestyle. It doesn’t choose you.
I realized no matter what happened in my life, I still had the option to decide how I wanted to live. It was a vastly different life than the one I had with my husband, but it didn’t take away from what we were able to create in our new home, in our new little town.
Even though there were tough financial times like when the housing market crashed, (as a real estate agent I had very little money coming in)… we just figured it out. We became more resourceful.
And the timing couldn’t have been better for what was about to happen. My kids were in a stable environment when their dad died of a heart attack. He was just 54 and left this planet way too soon. I think it was his broken heart that caused his heart to fail. In fact, I’m sure of it.
But my kids survived, and now as young adults, I see their tumultuous life has having given them strength beyond my expectations. Like any adult, they’ve had their challenges, but they’ve figured it out.
And so have I.
Fear is a normal and natural reaction to a change in circumstances.
When you transition from the darkest times into re-shaping your life, there’s a sense of power that forever changes you. It makes you realize that fear is a normal part of living when you don’t know where you’re headed. You just figure it out one step at a time.
When you’re given a circumstance you have to face, you first look at the part you play… your role… what you can do… and you take the next step.
Just the very next step because you don’t have to see the whole picture, yet.
Just take the very next step and the next.
Taking it one step at a time is how life nudges you along, even when you’re reluctant. It gently guides you into clarity into doing what must be done. You can’t stay in chaos or resistance, because something will happen to jolt you into the next step whether you like it or not. It’s better to choose what’s next.
To see your potential, and all that your life could become, you HAVE to look back on what you’ve come through and what you’ve achieved. You have to honor it. And then you say to yourself… ahhhh, I see it clearly now.
If you’d asked me whether I thought I could survive the loss of a child, or the loss of my marriage, and all the changes it would require, I would have told you…NO. I couldn’t allow myself even to imagine the possibility. It’s a parent’s greatest fear.
But it happened to me. And now I know I have more endurance than I thought.
And so do you.
You are remarkable.
It’s true. If you look back, you can see how you dealt with the most challenging moments in your life, and you’re still standing.
You’re also changed. You see what didn’t work, and you know what is possible. It’s not always clear until you look back.
In 2010, I wrote a timeline of my life. With each significant life experience, I wrote a paragraph about what it taught me… positive and negative.
Suddenly, it all makes sense.
It was one of the most powerful insights I’ve ever had. It was like life suddenly made sense. It brought clarity to the through-line of my experiences and made me see how I developed skills (although sometimes reluctantly) in handling each circumstance.
It helped me feel I’m not just living a reactive life, but a bold life, choosing what to do next with the circumstances I’ve been given.
Every time you question, “will I make it through?” Say “HELL YES!” Look what you’ve already been through, and…
Everything is going to be alright.
Call to Action
I urge you to look back on your own life. You’ll be surprised at the vision, or I should say… re-vision you will have. Your past has a purpose; it created the story of YOU… and you’re pretty darn remarkable, just the way you are.
If you’ve got creativity on your mind… I have a complimentary sample for you. A short ebook on how to establish some simple habits to set your creativity on fire: How to Develop the Creative Mindset.
**Previously published on Medium-Thrive Global**